Second to None!

The birth of my passion for gardening.

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY P. SAVAGE

Approximately 13 years ago, I was the school principal in the village of Serowe in Botswana, Africa. It was a day in September when my personal secretary, Mary, knocked on the door of my office. I asked her to come in. “Madam,” she said, “A certain Mrs. Sero Mpulu would like to see you.” Mrs. Mpulu came into my office and we greeted each other excitedly (we were former schoolmates at the local university).

Mrs. Mpulu said, “Hello, Chawada, how are you? I did not know you are the current principal of this school. When were you posted to this school?”

“Not long ago. I was posted here in January, 2004. In fact it was a blessing to have been redirected to Serowe, my home village.”

“Just thank God that you were redirected to here,” Mrs. Mpulu reassured me. Then she came to the business that brought her to my school. “I have come here to ask you to buy roses to decorate your school and to sell to individual members of your staff. Let’s go to my car outside and show you what I am talking about.”

We went to Mrs. Mpulu’s van. It was packed with roses. “Wawo! These are very beautiful,” I commented with admiration. I could see red ones, yellow, white, orange, pink, cerise, and several other colours. Unfortunately, the school had no funds to buy roses. But I decided to buy for myself one particular cerise rose.

From one little plant in 2004, I now have more than 400 rosebushes.

I put my lovely cerise rose in a big container and it grew considerably. It also had a welcoming fragrance. This one little rose sparked a serious passion for gardening in me.

Fortunately, at the end of that year I got a transfer to Diratsame II Junior Secondary School in Moshupa, my husband’s home village. I started buying more roses from my same former university mate and from reputable nurseries.

About four years later, I started to grow my own roses and other plants from cuttings. I have employed one garden assistant. My husband and my two adult children have also joined in and become passionate about gardening. My elder sister who stays in another village, 275 kilometers away, also developed a passion for gardening from me. She occasionally visits to come and help with gardening chores. We make cuttings from the branches cut during pruning and root these in a growing medium. The highest number of small plants we have produced from rooting cuttings is 214, while the smallest is 60. Rooting roses and other plants has resulted in a huge expansion of my backyard garden. The garden has more than 400 plants! They include:

  • Eleven varieties of bicolored roses (with two or more colors)
  • Six varieties of pink roses
  • Five varieties each of white, orange, and yellow roses
  • Four varieties each of red, maroon, peach, and purple roses
  • Three varieties of cerise roses
  • Two varieties of brown roses
  • And many, many more!

As I speak now, the garden has become a source of income for my family. I have started selling small plants to other people. My customers are mainly women who have been inspired by my garden. At the moment there are very few men customers. My home has become a center of attraction for passionate novices and established backyard gardeners.

I also give cut flowers to my school during major activities like annual prize-giving ceremonies. I give flowers to my church during Mothers/Father’s Day and other special activities. I use cut flowers to decorate my own home. And I have given my friends and relatives a considerable number of plants for free.

And now I am dreaming bigger and bigger about my gardening. I have started recruiting other gardeners to join me in forming a Local Gardeners Forum through which we can meet at least once a month at one of our gardens to share ideas and experiences. Following my retirement from Public Service in January, 2017, I have started to scout for a bigger plot for my gardening.

This is unbelievable! From one little cerise rose plant in 2004, I now have more than 400 rosebushes and other plants, extra cash for my family, and a network with other gardeners.

My quest for plants will never end. The power of gardening? Second to none!


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